By Andres Pachon
A. Pachon, a journalist and skateboard addict, is a full-time writer for SHIT® Magazine.
The land of silk and jade has gone through centuries of turmoil and peace in the ever-unceasing spin of the yin and the yang. Decades not so long ago, its isolation sealed it from any foreign interference, crafting with it a path of steady national growth into a cultural, economic and military global superpower. Nowadays, China has been open to exchange once more with the world, reviving a long-lost friendly conversation missing since the days of Marco Polo. The country is vast, culturally diverse and holds an intriguing mix between the traditions of old and the new post-communist era. The language and politics are no longer a barrier, and so a new language has arrived at the shores of Guangzhou, the current skateboarding head city of China. Here’s a quick review:
The First Wave of Chinese Skateboarding
Photo: Eric Tyler (Unsplash)
It is said that it arrived in the PRC back in the mid 80’s with a skateboarder from the US that wanted to study Chinese abroad. He brought with him his deck and with it started spreading the word at an alarming and unprecedent rate. The takeover had begun. Years went by and Chinese local government authorities start noticing how some of the citizens, both autochthonous and foreign, wander the streets and public space with a skateboard without any concern for public safety or norms.
The counterculture that boomed in the Western world did invade the PRC and drag with it all of them universal ideals that made skateboarding a big deal for individuals and communities’ lives. A style and culture around the skateboard began boiling in the bowls of China’s most important cities; a process without any comeback that to this day can be credited to some extent for shaping the present-day PRC. Resistance and opposition from some government officials from the most conservative sectors is still seen and felt in some cities and towns, even to the point of banning or fining skateboarders that take on public space. Still skateboarders resist and don’t abandon their decks.
Guangzhou - The Biggest Skate Park in the World
The battle was relatively won by skateboarders. Thanks to the Olympics committee approval of skateboarding as an Olympic sport, the PRC has tried to adjust its agenda for the upcoming Games by lifting most of anti-skateboarding laws. In 2015 was finished the construction of the world’s biggest skate park to date: The GMP Skate Park. Located in Guangzhou, the park has 17.000 square meters. This is huge and makes other pale in comparison.
Plans are been made to build another park in Guizhou; that one will have 30.000 square meters. Up until now, skateboarding in Guangzhou scene is growing by the second and its now a pilgrimage site for skateboarders all around the world. The still new but slowed paced upcoming legacy that the Chinese skateboarding scene is now one that refuses to leave, and most likely will remain there despite any interference. Skateboarding will prevail and stand ablaze along the immortal dragons in the sky flying over Guangzhou and all of China.
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